There once was a time when the only occasion a footballer had to hear abuse from the fans was quite literally almost face-to-face.
It reminds me of the story involving my old man going to watch Reading take on Cardiff in what was a rather volatile atmosphere at Elm Park.
With all the shouting and hissing going on as well as projectiles being thrown at stewards it was already a place you probably didn’t want to be but when the guy sitting behind him decided to shout something defamatory about the footballing abilities of Royals striker Carl Asaba he must have thrown his voice because the former Brentford man eyeballed my paps something rotten. When I signed Asaba, who went on to have much more fruitful stints with Gillingham and Sheffield United then he did in Berkshire, with Maidenhead United on Football Manager it was a story I was always quick to remind my dad of.
Nowadays however the landscape has changed completely. Essentially any nit-wit with internet access and something resembling a brain molecule can now get directly in touch with a professional footballer with a few button clicks via Twitter.
In some ways this is great. It breaks down the ever increasing boundaries between players and fans and allows a level of interaction you would only ever usually get in a chance meeting (for me it was meeting James Harper in Tesco; Nathan Tyson on the 33 bus and Ivar Ingimarsson at the urinal).
Unfortunately some people take it as an opportunity to just have a pop at professional footballers for no real reason other than a weird sense of accomplishment.
That was the case yesterday when Arsenal under-21 players Craig Eastmond and Jernade Meade got into an altercation with several Arsenal ‘’fans’’ on Twitter.
The two were messing around due to the dodgy barnet of Zach Fagan when the criticism started.
Meade has played two games for the senior side this season in the Champions League against Olympiakos and League Cup versus Reading. Eastmond on the other hand has seen his promising career hampered by an injury problem picked up at Colchester United where he had been impressing on loan.
You can see the Tweets below and you have to side with the players. If you haven’t got anything constructive to say then don’t bother.
There is always the ‘unfollow’ button ready for use as well.
image: © West McGowan